Share

Current Events

Friday, August 26, 2016

Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me for Testifying Against Them on Behalf of a Co-worker?

New Jersey has several laws that prohibit an employer from retaliating against an employee who testifies against the employer in a lawsuit brought by another employee. This is good news including for New Jersey state employees who might otherwise have to rely upon First Amendment protections with mixed results. 

There are numerous NJ statutes prohibiting an employer from retaliating against an employee who participates in a lawsuit against the employer, including New Jersey’s Whistleblower, Discrimination and Family Leave Statutes, and the Workers’ Compensation, Civil Service Commission, Occupational Health and Safety, and Wage statutes. The most common law for protecting workers from retaliation by the employer if they testify against that employer in a lawsuit brought by a co-employee is New Jersey’s general whistleblower law,  the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) N.J. Stat. § 34:19-1,et seq. This statute states in part that  an employee may not be discharged or discriminated against in retaliation for the following activities...  § 34:19-3 (2) (b) which is relevant as to when an employee testifies as a witness against an employer in a lawsuit brought by another person:

§ 34:19-3. Retaliatory action prohibited
An employer shall not take any retaliatory action against an employee because the employee does any of the following:

a.) Discloses, or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or to a public body an activity, policy or practice of the employer, or another employer, with whom there is a business relationship, that the employee reasonably believes:

(1) is in violation of a law, or a rule or regulation promulgated pursuant to law, including any violation involving deception of, or misrepresentation to, any shareholder, investor, client, patient, customer, employee, former employee, retiree or pensioner of the employer or any governmental entity, or, in the case of an employee who is a licensed or certified health care professional, reasonably believes constitutes improper quality of patient care; or

(2) is fraudulent or criminal, including any activity, policy or practice of deception or misrepresentation which the employee reasonably believes may defraud any shareholder, investor, client, patient, customer, employee, former employee, retiree or pensioner of the employer or any governmental entity;

b. ) Provides information to, or testifies before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry into any violation of law, or a rule or regulation promulgated pursuant to law by the employer, or another employer, with whom there is a business relationship, including any violation involving deception of, or misrepresentation to, any shareholder, investor, client, patient, customer, employee, former employee, retiree or pensioner of the employer or any governmental entity, or, in the case of an employee who is a licensed or certified health care professional, provides information to, or testifies before, any public body conducting an investigation, hearing or inquiry into the quality of patient care; or

c.) Objects to, or refuses to participate in any activity, policy or practice which the employee reasonably believes:

(1) is in violation of a law, or a rule or regulation promulgated pursuant to law, including any violation involving deception of, or misrepresentation to, any shareholder, investor, client, patient, customer, employee, former employee, retiree or pensioner of the employer or any governmental entity, or, if the employee is a licensed or certified health care professional, constitutes improper quality of patient care;

(2) is fraudulent or criminal, including any activity, policy or practice of deception or misrepresentation which the employee reasonably believes may defraud any shareholder, investor, client, patient, customer, employee, former employee, retiree or pensioner of the employer or any governmental entity; or

(3) is incompatible with a clear mandate of public policy concerning the public health, safety or welfare or protection of the environment.

The New Jersey Legislature Has Passed Numerous Other Statutes That Prohibit an Employer from Retaliation Against an Employee Who Testifies Against Them in a Lawsuit.

Some of the other statutes that protect an employee from retaliation for participating in a lawsuit against them are as follows, which list is not all inclusive:

• In employment discrimination lawsuits filed under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq., (LAD), the statute prohibits an employer from discharging or discriminating against an employee in retaliation for testifying or assisting in a proceeding as follows:

d. For any person to take reprisals against any person because that person has opposed any practices or acts forbidden under this act or because that person has filed a complaint, testified or assisted in any proceeding under this act or to coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of that person having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by this act. 

• The New Jersey's Family Leave Act which allows employees to take time off from work to care for a new-born child or to attend to a serious health condition of a family member. N.J. Stat. § 34:11B-9. An employee may not be discharged or discriminated against in retaliation for opposing a practice that violates the New Jersey Family Leave Act. Nor may an employee be discharged or discriminated against in retaliation for filing a charge, instituting a proceeding, providing information in connection with a proceeding, or testifying in a proceeding under the Family Leave Act.

• Wage Lawsuits: Under New Jersey Wage laws, N.J. Stat. § 34:11-56a24, an employee may not be discharged or discriminated against in retaliation for making a complaint, instituting a proceeding, or testifying in a proceeding concerning minimum wage violations. This is true whether the lawsuit be filed by a single plaintiff or in a class action lawsuit.

• Cooperating in a Lawsuit Against an Employer Concerning Violations of Worker Health and Safety: An employee may not be discharged or discriminated against in retaliation for filing a complaint, instituting a proceeding, testifying in a proceeding, or exercising rights concerning worker health and safety. N.J. Stat. § 34:6A-45, Occupational Health and Safety.

• New Jersey’s Civil Service statute prohibits retaliation against an employee for disclosing a violation of law, governmental mismanagement, or abuse of authority. Under Title 11 of the Civil Service Statute, it states in part: 11A:2-24. Protection against reprisals. An appointing authority shall not take or threaten to take any action against an employee in the career, senior executive or unclassified service in retaliation for an employee's lawful disclosure of information on the violation of any law or rule, governmental mismanagement or abuse of authority.

• The Workers’ Compensation statute, NJSA 34:15-39.1 prohibits the termination of an employee in retaliation for filing a workers compensation claim or for testifying at a workers’ compensation hearing.

While the above list is not all inclusive, it illustrates the New Jersey Legislature’s seriousness in promoting laws prohibiting employer retaliation against workers who testify against them in lawsuits brought by other co-workers.

Some of the above laws have stronger protections against such reprisals than do others and allow for much larger economic recoveries in the event of such illegal employer retaliation, by way of example, some, but not all, allow for punitive damages. 

What You Can Do

If you feel your employer is retaliating against you because you are testifying at a deposition or otherwise participating in a lawsuit against your employer, it is important to consult with an aggressive and experienced employment attorney. If you believe you are being subjected to such  unlawful workplace discrimination or retaliation, please contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout New Jersey, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in Central, Western and Northern NJ to meet with clients.


Archived Posts

2017
2016
December
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January
2015
2013



© 2017 Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law | Disclaimer
466 Kinderkamack Road , Oradell , NJ 07649
| Phone: 201-599-9600

Family Law | Employment/Civil Rights Law | School Law and Educational Rights | Disability Law | Wills and Estate Planning | Municipal Court Appearances | Divorce Mediation Services | General Practice | Employee Performance Evaluations | Family Law Practice | Employment Law Practice

Amicus Creative